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The tale of the 2017 Ohio State quarterback room continues to defy reality

Recent developments have simply added to the already bizarre story of the 2017 Buckeye signal callers

The alpha of the 2017 quarterbacks now flies under the radar, compared to the rest
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is not exactly groundbreaking content — at least thematically. The stories of J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow, and Tate Martell have already been told, in one way or another. But the stories are never complete, and they continue to evolve over time. These guys are the gift(s) that keeps on giving. Martell’s recent “retirement” announcement added another layer to this already unbelievable story.

For those keeping track of Martell’s career at home (and I’m sure there are tons of you), the former record-setting high school quarterback and Gatorade Player of the Year recently announced his retirement from football... which is odd, because I’m not sure an announcement was necessary. I think most people had assumed that Martell gave up football a few years ago. Turns out, he was floundering at UNLV – close to home – after a failed pursuit of relevancy at Miami.

Whether it was talent, ego, maturity, lack of support, or an aversion to hard work, college football just never worked out for Martell. I personally believe that his lack of success was due to a combination of factors, but the end result was a real bummer. There are tons of mega-recruits who get chewed up and spit out by college football. The hit rate is low. But Martell went through the ringer in front of an audience. It grew smaller and smaller by the year, but there were people who followed his career dating back to his Netflix days. He seemed like a mixture of fictional character Johnny Walker (Johnny Be Good, 1988) and the real-life Johnny Manziel. And people were interested in him — hoping that he either fell flat on his face, or won games at the same rate he did at Bishop Gorman High School.

Instead, Martell never got a chance to lead any of his teams to victory, and he is now out of the game he presumably once loved. His retirement was announced on social media, because of course it was. Unfortunately, that is where Martell was hyped up, dumped on, and everything in between. In my opinion, he was the first “social media football player” — created, bantered about, cancelled, resurrected, and retired, all behind the computer screen or smartphone. It’s time for him to move on, and so should we. Most of us don’t know anything about the kid, so to say he failed or quit, is not our statement to make. Hopefully Tate makes his own, and finds success off the field.

Martell is only one of the characters in this story! Three other quarterbacks - all ahead of him in the pecking order at Ohio State - have gone on to lead completely different, unique football lives. It would take much more than a single blog to capture it all. Even then, I would want all the men who lived it to be involved. Can we petition for a 30 For 30-style documentary?

Think about the divergent paths that all of these other players took. Barrett finished his career as one of the most accomplished Buckeye quarterbacks to ever do it. He’ll likely remain in the top-5 of countless statistical categories which measure QB performance and success for quite some time. When he graduated, there were fans and media types who believed that Barrett should be considered the greatest quarterback in Ohio State history... Now he’s an afterthought for many college football fans. Haskins, Justin Fields, and C.J. Stroud have obliterated most of his single-game and single-season records. He was not the quarterback of record during OSU’s 2014 CFP run, and his professional career amounted to nothing. It’s crazy to think that Barrett peaked in relevancy in 2017, but I think he should be appreciated for decades to come.

Haskins was the backup to Barrett during that 2017 season, and played ahead of Burrow... Yes, Joe Burrow, the potential NFL Comeback Player of the Year and destroyer of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 31-year playoff victory drought. Haskins parlayed one fantastic season into a high draft pick, but the beginning of his NFL career has been reminiscent of Martell’s collegiate odyssey. The current Washington Football Team thought they were getting a steal, only to regret their pick within a few seasons. Haskins, like Martell, was plagued by questions about his work ethic, maturity, and so on, and he made plenty of missteps on his own. There is hope that he can carve out a career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we’re 0-for-3 here, when it comes to the 2017 QB’s who played their most significant snaps with the Buckeyes.

Then we have Burrow. Joey B. Joey Franchise... The one who got away. You know the story and where we stand currently, but hindsight being 20/20, I still don’t think the situation plays out any differently. Yes, Burrow won a National Championship, but at the time, he clearly wasn’t beating out Barrett. Haskins was a hell of a college quarterback and established all kinds of OSU single-season passing records. There is no guarantee that Burrow would have enjoyed more success with the Buckeyes. He took some time to find his stride at LSU — and did so with a ton of talent around him. Now he’s balling out in the NFL playoffs. This situation arguably worked out well for all involved... except Martell.

Burrow has since returned to the Buckeye state, and we’re happy to have him home
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

What a wild, wild series of events (so far). The story keeps changing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Barrett is some hotshot up-and-coming coach sooner than later. Maybe Haskins gets a chance to start in Pittsburgh, and excels under Mike Tomlin. Martell supposedly has big things coming in the business world. And Burrow... well he has already established himself as a legend in certain respects. The totality of it all makes it one of the most (if not the most) intriguing Ohio State football storylines to ever come out of the program. There’s Woody, Archie, Schlichter, Tattoogate, the 2014 team, and this surreal 2017 quarterback situation. It is something Buckeye fans will talk about decades from now, and I hope story ends well for all. Especially Martell.